Dell displays Eee-like low-cost laptop

We’ve known since April that Dell plans to go up against the Eee PC with a small, low-cost laptop of its own. No details about the machine have appeared since, but today we see Gizmodo got a first look at it courtesy of Michael Dell himself.

Judging by Gizmodo’s photos, the Inspiron Mini has about the same form factor as other current and upcoming low-cost notebooks, with what looks like an 8.9″ or 10″ display. The system arguably looks more elegant than others, too, with a glossy red display bezel, sleek black keyboard, and silver palm rest. Connectivity includes your usual three USB ports, one Ethernet port, VGA output, microphone and stereo headphone ports, and a flash card reader.

A more unusual aspect of Inspiron Mini is its keyboard, which seems to have oversized letter and number keys but narrow (and sometimes reshuffled) punctuation and function keys. Dell presumably wants to make typing less cramped than on other tiny laptops, but some of the compromises it made could hamper typists in other ways. For instance, we can’t see a quote key between L and enter, and writing a backslash apparently involves using the function modifier key.

Michael Dell didn’t give Gizmodo any specifications or launch details. However, the rumor mill suggests the Inspiron Mini could launch in June and may very well feature an Intel Atom processor.

Comments closed
    • gtoulouzas
    • 11 years ago

    They need to fix that keyboard asap. I know I’d rather get the cramped Asus keyboard rather than having to use multiple key combinations to backspace (it’s a mini-PC, not a cellphone fer heaven’s sake!)

    Other than that, the machine seems really slick. I’d pay ~400 dollars for it if they released with a more conventional keyboard.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    I would think Dell would brand this a Vostro rather than an Inspiron. But I don’t completely understand their branding anyway.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    That keyboard is a deal-breaker for me. Small keyboards are bad enough, small keyboards missing vital keys and requiring alt+fn+cokebottle use-both-elbows shift sequences get computers tossed across the room.

      • thecoldanddarkone
      • 11 years ago

      Don’t forget the stomping part.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        If you throw it hard enough, that’s optional. I hate getting up.

    • absinthexl
    • 11 years ago

    Am I going crazy, or is there really no backslash without using Fn?

      • Hattig
      • 11 years ago

      It’s going to use Linux I bet! No Windows or DOS-like file system naming on this baby!

    • Synchromesh
    • 11 years ago

    Looks pretty decent. Definitely better than Asus eee. I’m just hoping that the quality is better than average Dell.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    It’s really cute. Certainly better than any of the other mini laptops I’ve seen. The keyboard might be a bust though.

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    If these are < $400, consider me sold. I need something for tuning my racecars, and something like this is perfect. Small, decent battery life, if its got an SSD, then even better.

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    The keyboard thing is a really good idea, although it would make it awful for on-the-road programming because the {, }, [ and ] characters are now mapped to Fn + W,E,R,T from what I can see.

    Also the Fn characters could just be a different colour than being in reverse which looks horrible. Why is there a delete key which could be Fn + Backspace instead?

    Also I’d rather have the cursor keys either lower down, or not as high, so that right hand shift key could be larger.

    In addition, they could make the keyboard go to the sides of the case, they could add another key in there width-wise.

      • MrJP
      • 11 years ago

      Delete key needed for Ctrl+Alt+Del, so must come with Windows? 🙂

        • Mourmain
        • 11 years ago

        Funny but true. I think you need that combo to log in to Win2k?

        I bet Ctrl+Alt+Fn+Backspace would work too though.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          Well, the Ctl+Alt+Del combination actually generates an interrupt, not a normal key message, which is why it is used for log-in (it’s much more difficult to install a trojan that simulates a login to capture passwords if the sequence to bring up the log-in by-passes all but the lowest-level software). But they can engineer a keyboard so that any arbitrary or combination of keys produces that interrupt.

    • droopy1592
    • 11 years ago

    I’m gonna be it’s not /[

      • nagashi
      • 11 years ago

      It might be. Dell is a pretty big buyer of parts, and they already sell laptops in the <$700 market.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        I vote at $549 with XP Home or Vista Basic and M$ Works suite.

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